Our Water Commons blog

Public Water Systems Can Help the War on Poverty

Published Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

No army can win a war without good quality water. Dysentery took more lives in the U.S. Civil War than battle wounds. Likewise, the War on Poverty won't be won without healthy and affordable water.

The conversation this week about the War on Poverty is long overdue, especially welcome is the noisy clamor to raise the minimum wage. At the same time, families' budgets swell with multiple expenses. The War on Poverty will be won when some of those can be shrunk, especially those that can be more equitably shared. Let's take a look at water.


Greeks Stand Up to Protect Their Water From Privatization

Published Friday, February 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

As foreign investors eye their public utilities, water workers scramble to create cooperatives

Greece knows a thing or two about democracy. And as an increasingly arid nation, good water management is fundamental to its future, both political and physical. The recent financial crisis hasn't only tested Greek democracy, but its water as well.


How New York City Kept Its Drinking Water Pure -- In Spite of Hurricane Sandy

Published Monday, November 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

By Albert Appleton and Daniel Moss

Smart investments that can keep public water systems safe in the age of superstorms

As we head toward the November 6 election, you can't miss the vitriol boiling over in public debate. Best to shrink government and then drown it in a bathtub, say anti-tax crusaders. The implications for our water systems are hard to miss. Throwing out that bath water would mean under-investing in infrastructure, losing out on essential financing, compromising public health regulations and discharging public servants charged with keeping our water supply and watersheds healthy.


The Right Water Debates in the Wrong Place

Published Monday, April 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

The World Water Council, the convener of the World Water Forum, sure knows its market. At their recent global gathering held in Marseille, France, they tapped into the thirst of governments, development agencies and banks, NGOs and private water operators for a conversation about water services and managing the growing water crisis -- as well as a shot at lucrative contracts. Exhibition booths included desalinization companies and private firms like Suez and Veolia, the biggest in the industry.


Water as Human Right Threatens to Split World Body

Published Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 1:56 am | Permalink

Water commons colleagues Maude Barlow and Anil Naidoo are at the UN rallying support for the right to water and sanitation. Read about this historic moment and the opportunity to take part in making history. Please take action in your country—it is likely to be a very close vote.


Our Water Commons at the US Social Forum

Published Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 4:45 am | Permalink

Our Water Commons is thrilled to participate in the United States Social Forum. It will be a tremendous opportunity to strengthen coalition work with water-related organizations in the US and around the world for the hard work over the years ahead. Come join us and read more about what we'll be up to.


How Dirty Are We Willing to Get? To Take or Not to Take Climate Change Money

Published Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:28 am | Permalink

At the alternative climate summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, criticism was sharp and unrelenting about the false climate change solutions that imperil our commons. Rightly so. Many of the solutions proposed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) are based on poor science (basic hydrology seems to be absent), lucrative carbon markets and only measly changes in Northern production and consumption - practices that got us into this greedy and perilous situation in the first place.

If Money Fuels Climate Change …


Water Awareness: 2 Million Bostonians Discover Our Water Commons

Published Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 12:37 am | Permalink

Bostonians got an amazing glimpse of our water commons this week — as an entire infrastructure of largely invisible “commons” institutions revealed itself.

On Saturday afternoon, I was driving home to Boston from a meeting on the North Shore of Massachusetts. My cell phone rang with a bilingual message indicating that a major water main had broken west of Boston and that we should boil all water for a minute. As I approached the city, electronic billboards flashed signs “Boil Water, Emergency Advisory.”


A Water Commons Clash in the Coliseum

Published Friday, March 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

The battle to preserve water as a common good has taken to the Roman streets. As you turn on the tap to hydrate yourself , please take a moment to think of our Italian colleagues fighting to overturn the water-privatizing Ronchi law.

Here’s a really illuminating exchange between two European water activists, one Italian and one German about the implications of the Italian fight for European water.

“Dear friends,

Just a brief update on what's happing in Italy.

At the end of November 2009, a new law was approved. Its name is Ronchi Law: the starting point of water services privatization was launched!


Who Owns Rainwater?

Published Friday, March 5, 2010 at 7:22 am | Permalink

People cringe in horror when they learn that Bechtel, in its quest to privatize water supplies in Bolivia years ago, actually prohibited people from capturing rainwater in barrels. But it turns out that a similar rule already applies to water in the State of Colorado. Under a legal doctrine of “prior appropriation,” it is illegal for someone to capture rainwater because it is preventing water from reaching a river, whose supplies are already allocated and owned by someone.